Monday, September 25

Fear of the Dark by Walter Mosley

Review by Gloria Feit


Walter Mosley seamlessly recreates, in his customary fashion, the Watts/South Central area of LA circa 1956.  This is the third book by Mr. Mosley to feature Paris Minton and his 'associate' and best friend, Fearless Jones, the latter described as 'tall and thin, jet of color, unafraid of death or love, threat or imprisonment.'  When Paris' cousin, Ulysses S. Grant IV, called Useless by one and all, 'a petty thief, a liar, a malingerer, and just plain bad luck,' shows up at the door of Paris' bookstore one day, Paris knows he's in trouble.  When Paris turns down his cousin's plea for help and sends him away, it's only a matter of time before Paris' aunt, Three Hearts, Useless' mother, comes looking for her son, and Paris has to try to find him.  In so doing, he finds more than he bargained for: blackmail, cheating business partners, jealous boyfriends, and murder.  One incident in particular, brought about by Paris' sexual propensities and appetites, gives him good reason for the phobia of the title, among other fears that plague him. 


As in this author's prior books, Fear of the Dark is fast-moving and well-plotted.  The racism that was such a taken-for-granted part of the era is clearly depicted, e.g., "You know we always on the edge, brother.  You don't have to do sumpin' wrong for the cops to get ya and the judge to throw you ovah.  All you got to do is be walkin' down the street at the wrong minute.   Shoot, Paris.  You always got to be ready to run."  As Paris says at one point, "I sat there thinking how the life I was living would be better in the remembering than it was while it was going on."




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